Running for A Cause By Melissa Countryman

I used to have a shirt that read, “I only run if I’m being chased by wild animals, so I’d start running if I were you,” or something to that effect. I was officially in the three mile a year club (the Navy requires us to run 1.5 miles twice a year). However, recently, I’ve been trying to get into healthier habits. Who knew that having a stressful job, drinking lots of wine and beer, and eating massive amounts of fried food for an extended period of time was bad for you? So I began my search of “support groups” for fat girls like me looking to get healthy, and not be publicly shamed in the effort. First, though, I have a confession to make…“My name is Melissa Countryman. I’m almost 40 years old, and I am a Harry Potter fan.” This is how I found the Potterhead Running Club, henceforth referred to as the PHRC (formerly Hogwarts Running Club, but, you know, infringement and stuff. Even though they’re a non-profit).

It may sound strange that there is a running club named after a fandom, but let me assure you, it isn’t the only one; there’s also a Whovian Running Club and a Chilton Running Club, just to name a few. The clubs are designed to foster a community of support and centers around something that connects the members. I am actually what they call a Turgle: I’m a Ravenclaw Eagle that “runs” the speed of a turtle. Not everyone goes fast, but that’s ok. Not everyone can run or walk, but the PHRC encourages any type of forward movement: swimming, biking, skiing. PHRC encourages people at all levels of their journey, from walking their first mile to running their last marathon.

While most of the posts within the group are centered around either Harry Potter or running, they also provide a support network for other important life situations. PHRC will give a “wands up” (indicated by /*) at the death of a loved one or critical situation (tornadoes, shootings, wild fires, health crisis). That isn’t where the group stops its efforts to reach out to its members, either. The PRHC moto is a quirky turn of a line from the beloved series: “I solemnly swear I am up to so much good.” And they are. For every virtual race that they run, 100% of all proceeds (races have a $25 entry fee) go to the charity partner for that race. These charity partners span a vast range from Project Purple (for beating pancreatic cancer) to RODS (Racing for Orphans with Downs syndrome).

Their membership doesn’t just span the United States, but the globe. While every “student” is welcome within the Great Hall, all students are sorted into their individual houses for competitions. PHRC sponsors six main running events through the year, culminating in the Quidditch Cup. Each of these is paired with a different and new charity partner. The PHRC is living up to their moto, and having fun while they do it.